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Pakistan’s “Swing State”

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South Punjab has become a “swing state” in Pakistan. Fortunes and misfortunes alike can be swayed by where the region chooses to place allegiance.

Malik Asim Dogar Profile Malik Asim Dogar

In the 2018 general elections, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was able to form a government in the center and in Punjab when South Punjab decided to swing its way.

One of the major reasons for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N)’s failure in the region was the absolute abandonment of the area by Shehbaz Sharif’s administration. As compared to the development work that was done in Lahore and Central Punjab, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Bahawalpur were sidelined.

And so, a South Punjab faction was created just a month before the general elections out of the electables that belong to Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and PML-N. Some of the names now waxing eloquent about the injustices wrought in the region had earlier been elected on Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) tickets too. Most of the men in the faction were feudals, gaddi-nasheens or land holders. Under the right circumstances, these politicians have been most beneficial for whomever Lady Luck is going to bestow her smile upon.

As per our constitution, Punjab is one province. But that is where the legalities end. In the minds of the people of Punjab, the south is a distinctly separate region. South Punjabis would be delighted if they get recognized as Seraiki Province. But at this point they will make do with just a title carrying just their geographic location, just as long as their dream is fulfilled.

The PTI infamously promised that within the first 100 days of the party taking charge in the capital, it will begin proceedings to carve out a South Punjab province. For one year, the issue remained dead. Once the media started discussing the issue, a South Punjab Secretariat was created. It remained toothless with Lahore still taking all the decisions pertaining to the southern districts.  An administrative attempt not backed up by political will was bound to crash. Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, described with much fanfare as a man who belonged to a backward area, decided that he did not want to be the administrator of just Central Punjab. And so the notification became a mere piece of paper.

Buzdar has said that South Punjab remains high on his agenda. He asks that no heed be paid to the propaganda of naysayers. One is tempted to ask him if the notification was suspended on the advice of the naysayers. Whatever the political reasons behind, the fact remains that the South Punjab issue is going to be raised once more. Once again, the main characters will be the politicians who have spent time in the stables of all political parties. South Punjab itself will remain woefully underdeveloped and ignored. Relentless poverty forces people to leave their homes and make their way towards bigger cities. Universities churn out graduates who will get no jobs. Vocational institutes and few and far in between. Industrial infrastructure is absent. The few agricultural reforms that were adopted will be dropped after the suspension of the notification.

PTI will have to pay heavy political costs for taking this decision. Delusioned by PPP and PML-N, the voters of South Punjab had looked towards PTI in the hope of getting their own province and equal development opportunities. After 31 months in power, Imran Khan has been unable to fulfill even a single electoral promise made to the entire country. Far from getting rid of IMF, we are now about to hand over State Bank of Pakistan to them. Instead of recovering looted wealth from former rulers, the PTI went into seat adjustment with them in the senate elections. If all failures are mentioned here, we may run out of space.

PPP has been trying to return to its past strength in Punjab since eight years now. It tried to bring PML-Q into power with the help of PML-N. But for Nawaz Sharif’s party, sharing government with a competent Chief Minister was a worse option than sitting in the opposition with a very incompetent one.

But now, PPP must be hoping anew for elusive success in the province. It has started reforming party structure and reconnecting with the central players of the area. It is true that the people of South Punjab have a soft corner for PPP. Meanwhile, powerful circles are once again ready to use the area as a swing state. Political heavyweights may be handed over to PPP if PDM is truly finished.

If that does happen, then PPP’s road to Islamabad and Lahore may well be obstacle free.

The writer tweets at @asimdogar76

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Rupee loses downward trend against US dollar

The latest reports suggested that the local currency was being traded at Rs275.50 against the greenback around 3pm.

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Karachi: The rupee lost its downward trend against the US dollar as it depreciated Rs3.08 in the interbank market on Monday.

The latest reports suggested that the local currency was being traded at Rs275.50 against the greenback around 3pm.

GNN reported that the Dollar took a reverse gear against the rupee in the local markets.

On Friday, the rupee touched the historic low as it closed at Rs276.58 after a decline of Rs5.22 or 1.89 per cent against the dollar.

The last week witnessed that the local unit recorded a cumulative fall of 5.05pc to close at its all-time low of 276.58 against the dollar in the inter-bank market.

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Pakistan

“Will not leave Imran ,” Moonis tells opponents to think again

The PML-Q leader has reacted after police conducted raid at Kanjah House in Gujrat to arrest his father former Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhary Pervaiz Elahi.

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Gujrat:  Chaudhary Moonis Elahi, the son of PML-Q leader and former Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhary Pervaiz Elahi, reacted to the police raid on their residence in Gujrat.

Moonish addressed the police, Federal Investigation Agency and others for conducting raid at their residence in Kanjah House.

He made it clear that they would not leave Imran Khan despite raids. The PML-Q asked the authorities to rethink what they were going to do while sharing the video of the raid at Kanjah House in Gujrat.

Taking to Twitter, he wrote, “Police , Fia, and others again at Kunjah House . They keep raiding without warrant. By raiding our house you think you will make us leave  @ImranKhanPTI . Think again!!,”.

The reaction came after his father former Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhary Pervaiz Elahi said that police rounded up their house in Gujrat.

“Police are trying to enter his house,” said Chaudhary Pervaiz Elahi in a message to the reports.

Hundreds of police officials were present there outside the home with dozens of vehicles.

This is the second raid of the police in less than a week time.

According to the sources, the police contingent raided the former chief minister’s home. Hundreds of police officers and dozens of police vehicles reached there.

On other hand, the police raided the residence of Muhammad Khan Bhatti, the former Principal Secretary to Punjab CM, and tried to arrest him

It may be mentioned here that  the Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment filed a case against ex-chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi’s former principal secretary on corruption charges.

He was accused of accepting a bribe over Rs460 million in bribes from Punjab Highway Department officials.

SDO Highway Police Rana Muhammad Iqbal had already been arrested on charges of bribery while the ACE has also started the process to arrest Bhatti on corruption charges.

The complainant stated that Iqbal had given millions of rupees to accused Bhatti to get posts of his choice. “Several officials from the communications and construction departments were working for Muhammad Khan Bhatti,” it added.

The FIR further divulged that the role of other officials of the department would also be investigated.

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Pakistan

“Judicial system is in crisis in Pakistan,” says Fawad Chaudhary in interview to Indian TV

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senior vice-president has said that from the Supreme Court to the lower courts all are losing importance as the trust level is minimum.

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Lahore:  Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) senior leader Fawad Chaudhary  said that the courts in Pakistan continued to lose their importance as the trust level was quite minimum.

“Our police systems,  if you see Transparency International report, the biggest crisis is the justice system where you can see that our courts have lost trust. The losing trust on the courts is the biggest problem for any country. In Pakistan, from the Supreme Court to the other courts, the trust level is minimum,” said the PTI leader while responding to a question about the condition of common citizens.

He said the common citizen was in trouble here.

Fawad Chaudhary also talked about the political situation as well as the economic situation in the country.

When asked what the PTI had solution to address the problems, Fawad said that his party addressed the issues when it came into power in 2018.

“Imran Khan was the only leader in Pakistan who has respects in Afghanistan. Imran Khan opposed drones and missile attacks in Pakistan. Therefore, Afghan leaders respect him. If the ties are good with Afghanistan then there will be no terrorism,” he responded.

He claimed, “the PTI has solutions to address all these challenges. We have to rely upon with the Overseas. $.2b remittances went down when these [coalition partners] came into power and overseas Pakistanis trust Imran Khan; we have to make a viable solution with the IMF for the short term and have to increase the imports for the long term programme,”.

 

 

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